Eye Contact
Who gives it, who doesn't, and why.

By John Brant

Square Dancers fall into three categories when it comes to giving other dancers eye contact.
  1. Eye contact is given most of the time.
  2. Eye contact is never given.
  3. Eye contact is sometimes given.
The questions that first come up are:
  1. Who cares?
  2. Is there any importance to it at all?
  3. Do good Square Dancers give more eye contact than poor dancers?
  4. Do Square Dancers in general give less eye contact than other dancers in other forms of dancing?
  5. Are dancers who give eye contact more "people oriented" and have more fun than those who don't give eye contact?
  6. What percentage of dancers fall into each category?
There have not been any scientific studies done on the subject so my answers will be based on my own observations:
(1) The answer to the first question is; very few. Most dancers have never thought about the subject. It has been only recently I have been observing dancers for eye contact.
(2) The answer to the second question is; probably very little. It is however interesting to note the differences in dancers and why those differences exist.
(3) The answer to the third question is; no. I have seen many great dancers who give no eye contact. I have also seen many poor dancers give lots of eye contact. There is no correlation between eye contact and dance ability.
(4) The answer to the fourth question is; yes, probably. It is difficult to compare Square Dancing to other forms of dancing because Square Dancing is much different than most forms of dancing. When comparing Square Dancers to Contra Dancers I am told by Contra Dancers that Contra Dancers give much more eye contact than Square Dancers. I suspect dancers in other forms of dancing give more eye contact also. Square Dancing is more technical in nature than other dancing. Many dancers concentrate on what they are doing and don't want the distraction of "interacting" with other dancers by giving eye contact.
(5) The answer to the fifth question is; it appears to be the case. People who give a lot of eye contact tend to be more people oriented. They seem to be more out-going. People who give very little or no eye contact are more reserved. Perhaps they feel their eyes will reveal something to others. It is a little risky giving eye contact because sometimes you can be disappointed with the response of others.
(6) The answer to the sixth question is; less than fifty percent give any eye contact at all. My estimate is that perhaps one in four dancers give eye contact frequently.

If you are dancer who gives no eye contact, then give it a try sometime. Eye contact is not practical during all of the moves. Any move where dancers are standing beside one another, such as in an Ocean Wave, eye contact is not practical. Moves where you are facing one another, such as Grand Right and Left or Allemande Left, offer good opportunities for eye contact. The feeling of looking someone in the eyes and seeing them smile and look at you is a good one. After all, isn't feeling good part of the whole idea of dancing? If that is the only benefit of eye contact then perhaps my answer to question #2 should be changed to YES.

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